With electrifying original compositions and renditions of Scott-Heron’s thought-provoking verses, spoken word artist Khari B draws upon the improvisational tradition that links Scott- Heron’s music-based work to his roots in Chicago. Featuring Robert Irving III, piano; Shawn Wallace, Keyboards; Ernie Adams, drums; Aum Mu Ra, guitar; Joshua Abrams, bass; Ernest Dawkins, saxophone; Coco Elysses, percussion.
Honoring Chicago’s Pioneering Spoken Word Master
The revolution will be revisited through a blend of spoken word and live jazz on March 13, 2015 at 7 p.m. in Hamilton Park located at 513 W. 72nd Street. The second installment of JazzCity 2015, a collaboration between the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, this free performance puts a contemporary spin on the heady and sometimes heavy words of verbal pioneer Gil Scott-Heron.
Scott-Heron knew what he was testifying about, from the ground up, when he recorded his early classic, Winter in America. Though he spent most of his career away from the Windy City, this is the place he was from – not only geographically, but also artistically via the broad swath of blues, soul and jazz he was exposed to and absorbed into his work.
In combining music and spoken word, long before the advent of rap, Scott-Heron was such an outspoken visionary that he was a bit off-putting for some listeners. But as Discopoet Khari B will demonstrate through his own singular blend of words and song, the voice behind The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and Pieces of a Man operated on the deepest and most infectious human level – even when he himself fell on hard times.
“Despite his own troubles and demons, he survived where others didn’t and even at his very lowest he continued to speak out on behalf of the disenfranchised, oppressed and under-represented of this world,” said Khari B, whose poetry has been strongly inspired by his subject’s. “Without even trying, he encouraged and motivated the generations that followed to do the same – the early hip-hop generation and those who are still in the music creating work that critiques the wrongs of this world and uplifts the people.
The son of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) legend Mwata Bowden, Khari B has assembled an electrifying band for the tribute, including his close working partner Robert Irving III on piano, Ernest Dawkins on saxophone, Shawn Wallace on keyboards, Aum Mu Ra on guitar, Junius Paul on bass, Charles Heath on drums and Coco Elysses on percussion. The performance will feature original pieces as well as well-known and unfamiliar covers of Scott-Heron numbers, many of them crafted with his close collaborator, Brian Jackson. While this performance is crafted to be family-friendly in terms of language, some of the content may be challenging for younger children.
Like Scott-Heron, Khari B is an artist of the world, having performed in Europe with the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble and Ernest Dawkins’ Chicago 12. The title of one of his recordings, I’MMA BAD MUTHA: The Rockstar Poetry Project!!!, gives you an idea of the energy and spirit he’ll bring to the stage.